What does Integration mean? Integration is taking an experience, an epiphany, an insight, a new skill, a new awareness about yourself and integrating it into every aspect of your life. This means your home life, your work life, your relationships, how you think and “be” in the world. When you integrate you become embodied.
When we have a new insight about a behavior or mind-set, we may begin an inquiry to discover where in our life we can detect that pattern. A behavior is informed by a thought, which is motivated by a belief, which was learned, experienced, or imprinted at some time in this life, and even passed down from previous generations. When we can uncover the subtleties of the pattern, it moves from being locked in our unconscious to now becoming conscious in our awareness. And this is the real beginning of change in our body, mind, and life.
Whether you are sitting in a sacred Ayahuasca ceremony, seeing a talk therapist, reading a self-help book, doing shadow work, authentic relating practices like Nonviolent Communication (NVC), body work like acupuncture, breathwork, or Somatic therapy, there are strategies for integrating change that can make a lasting difference.
Strategies To Integrate Deep Work
⃞ Change up your routine: pattern interrupters When we are on a path of growth, some of our patterns and habits are no longer of highest service to our soul. So changing things up in our daily lives can shake things loose and help us integrate. These changes, when done mindfully, literally shift our neural network in our brains, a necessary part of expanding our awareness. When we implement change, we can do it mindfully, keeping our intention to grow and expand in mind. Notice habits that you engage in regularly without thinking about them and consciously change things up. For example, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, driving a new route to work, taking a walk in a new area, sleeping on the other side of the bed, or drinking tea in the morning instead of coffee. If you find that you are very attached to something, then shift it. Shake things up. Find ways to intentionally shake up your routine.
⃞ Keep Learning
Continue reading. Attend workshops and classes. Life is a continuous journey and the learning and growing never stops. By learning something new, you change your brain and open yourself up in a new way. It is quite humbling to be a beginner again. Try picking up a new instrument, learning a new language, singing a new song, or any new skill that will bring you joy. This can help you integrate and grow as a human.
⃞ Surround Yourself with Community
Keep in touch with the people in your life that lift you up. Giving support to others can be even more valuable to your development as receiving support. If you attended a self-help retreat, pick a buddy and create an agreement to chat regularly to support each other. Talking can be a powerful way to process your experience as you move back into “the real world.”
⃞ Channel Your Creativity
Try different expressive and creative outlets such as art, poetry, writing, movement, music, sound…Create a piece of art around the experience or life topic you’re working on. You may consider drawing or painting something that symbolizes your experience. You may make a dream board, a beaded bracelet, a dream catcher out of string and sticks from nature, or color in a mandala coloring book. I remember after a breathwork retreat, we colored mandalas and there was something special about the act of coloring that helped integrate that experience more fully.
After an ayahuasca retreat I wrote a song and recorded it on my phone. Having this tangible creation can bring the experience back when we need a reminder.
⃞ Nourish Yourself
Take baby steps toward a diet that makes you feel good. Give yourself time to adjust to a new way of eating and caring for your body with loving kindness. What we eat, how we eat, and when we eat all impact how we integrate the deep work we’re doing. Keeping a clean diet helps our body and mind function more optimally which balances hormones, brain chemistry, and directly impacts our emotions. Eliminating junk food, processed sugars, high carb foods full of processed salt and fat can make a huge difference. Things like gluten, dairy, and heavy meats can cause your body to be sluggish, have trouble digesting, and create congestion in the system, preventing full integration and embodiment. Make an effort to eat more simply, including fresh vegetables and high fiber fruits (like apples). Staying hydrated is essential. Most people are dehydrated so please drink more water; spring water is best.
⃞ Talk to a Therapist
Get help from a therapist familiar with plant medicine if you feel like you need professional support. https://psychedelic.support/
⃞ Mantras and Affirmations
Core affirming thoughts - they have to be believable to you and align with you. They are different for everyone because they are relative to where you currently stand.
You can’t jump from “I hate myself” to “I love myself”. That will not feel in alignment and may actually make you feel worse. Go a bit more gradually. For example, “I value the fact that I care”.
⃞ Maintain a Mindfulness/Meditation Practice
Finding a meditation practice that resonates with you can add many benefits to your life. When we sit and are present with the mind and body, we begin to observe that there is space between stimulus and our reaction to it. It is a practice and just like playing an instrument, we can’t be expected to be instantly proficient at it. It takes time and daily practice. Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth. It helps to have a spot that is dedicated to this and that you can see, like a cushion in front of your altar.
⃞ Move your Body
The body is always processing our emotions and what we are going through. At times, when we feel stuck, moving our body can help to release that energy. Find a way to move that resonates with you and feels good to you. Whether it is yoga, stretching, dancing, running, weightlifting, or simply going for a walk, find the movement that helps your body feel the best. Take time to listen to your body and ask it what it needs. This dance meditation is an option https://youtu.be/CA_RlOzHlSI
⃞ Revisit your toolbox
Regularly remind yourself of all the tools you have collected to help you feel more grounded, healthy, and aligned with your highest self.
⃞ Practice gratitude daily
Taking the time to think about what we are grateful for and even writing it down can help rewire our brain to focus on what is going right versus what is going wrong.
Therapeutic breathwork or pranayama (conscious breathing) can empower you. Consider checking out Holotropic Breathwork, Transformational Breathwork, and other pranayama practices to see which ones resonate with you.
I’ve found, for myself and for my patients, that writing about the details of our experience can be very beneficial. Stream of consciousness journaling can help us release thoughts and emotions into physical form. New insights and clarity may arise as you put your thoughts and emotions onto paper. Write freely without worrying about handwriting, punctuation, or grammar. This is for your eyes only.
⃞ Connect to nature
Nature helps us heal. Pachamama, Gaia, The Earth is mysterious and magical. Scientists have proven that the earth has an electromagnetic field that positively impacts human health. When we can connect with nature around us, our human body shifts and can begin to remember our connection to all of life. Our nervous systems can co-regulate with nature, and downregulate, which means calm down. Find a spot in nature, whether it is at a local park, at the river, or in your backyard under a tree. Let this spot be an anchor as you honor the human need to be connected to the earth. Try digging your toes in the grass to help with feeling grounded and connected.
⃞ Invite ceremony and ritual into your life
There is incredible power in taking the time to intentionally regard something as sacred. Consider creating an altar and adding items that are meaningful to you, such as photos of loved ones, crystals, candles, or flowers. Place a cushion in front of the altar and meditate here. Light a candle for someone you love. Set intentions about the day/life you want to create for yourself.
⃞ Daily practices. It’s important to create a new daily practice for yourself. This new routine, over time, can make a huge difference in how you embody the growth and changes in your life. It needs to be new, so if you always journal, keep doing it, but add something different and new. It could be journaling, drawing, a new movement practice like yoga, a new exercise routine, meditation practice, prayer ritual, playing a new instrument, singing, or making a nature mandala (go into nature and collect rocks, sticks, leaves, shells, flowers etc., and make a design on the ground in honor of yourself, your growth and nature). Get creative!
⃞ Forgiveness practices. I’ve noticed that people carry a lot of guilt and shame. At some point, on the path of personal development, you may discover that your actions and words hurt other people. And you have also likely experienced that other people’s actions and words hurt you. Rather than beating yourself or others up about it, consider practicing deep forgiveness. Some patients have asked me, “how?” How can they forgive a relative who sexually abused them and ruined their life? Or how can they forgive their mother for giving them up for adoption? Or how can they forgive their family for …… (fill in the blank).
My tip is to find the gift. It’s often in strange wrapping. We forget that these painful experiences happened for a reason. Entertain the possibility that our soul needed that experience to learn an important lesson that can make us better people, who can then pass on that teaching to others and help them. It doesn’t mean we need to be a formal teacher to do this, rather we can embody the gift, remember gratitude for the things that have happened to us in our life, and share from this place in our hearts. It isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding and releases us from the toxic shame, blame, and guilt patterns that can block us from thriving in our lives.
⃞ Get support If you feel stuck, scared, lost, unsafe, or unsure after a spiritual experience, self-help workshop, self-development retreat, medicine ceremony, breathwork session etc., then please reach out and get support. Start with the leader of the session you were part of or received. They may or may not be skilled with integration so if you don’t feel “met” by them or they didn’t meet your needs, then don’t give up. I’m also here to support, empower, and guide you.
Integration is an important piece of embodiment. Just experiencing an insight or shifting something in your mind doesn’t mean it will integrate into the other aspects of your life. Let me know how it's going for you!
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.